What to drink this week
New Zealand reds
For a time, there was just New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. With Cloudy Bay providing inspirational leadership and excellent firms such as Babich and Villa Maria backing that up with quantity as well as quality, this style became phenomenally popular. It now accounts for 72% of New Zealand wine production and a staggering 86% of exports. Then came seriously good Chardonnay from producers such as Kumeu River (especially Maté’s Vineyard). Reds lagged behind the whites, but increasingly fine Pinot Noirs began to emerge from Martinborough and Central Otago. Now, it’s the turn of other red varieties —Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and even Syrah, for which New Zealand was once thought too cool.
It’s time to go beyond Pinot Noir, urges Harry Eyres
Why you should be drinking them
It took me quite a while—until earlier this year, in fact—to be truly convinced about the potential of NZ Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Now, I’m a convert. No longer excessively grassy, the best of these wines have exceptional freshness as well as ripeness.
What to buy
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (below, £14.99; www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk) is quite deep in colour, with an attractive mix of cassis fruit and earthy spice. Vidal Reserve Syrah 2016 (£14.99; as before) has a deeppurple colour and attractive garrigue and white-pepper aromas. Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah 2016 (£14.99; as before) is even better: violet-scented, with velvety tannins. Vidal Legacy Syrah 2014 (£34.99; as before) has impressive depth of colour and floral elegance. Villa Maria’s top red blend (97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot), Ngakirikiri 2013 (£81.99; as before), is almost black in colour, dense, layered and mouth-filling on the palate, with deep soft tannin, yet a fresh finish.